Student Screen 15 articles



Student Poster
  • Since Omirbaev favors irony of the heaviest-handed kind, he has the film-within-the-film's director argue for cinema's validity as mere entertainment, a stance clearly at loggerheads with what Omirbaev really wants to argue.

  • For all of his desire to do some serious, timely social critiqtuin’, Omirbaev chose to adapt one of the staunchest standards of the Russian canon—and for good reason. The novel is brilliant and feverish, like Raskolnikov. The movie, like Ali, is a slog.

  • To call Student an adaptation is perhaps too generous: Omirbaev cribs the basic schema of his source novel, but Student is lacking in the immediacy and philosophical intent that make Dostoevsky's work a classic... Student, for all its excoriating examples of the soullessness of modern Kazakhstan, comes off nearly as blunted and empty, more a dull screed than a pointed metaphor.

  • A sense of existential dread that would make the Russkie novelist beam is channeled beautifully, but for a filmmaker lauded for his minimalist aesthetic, Omirbayev sure loves broad-stroke symbolism and sloganeering.

  • Making this modern Raskolnikov a product of the zeitgeist would seem to drain his story of the spiritual struggle that makes Dostoevsky's work timeless. Or perhaps the struggle remains and I failed to recognize Omirbaev's depiction of it. Bresson's art is only as deep as what the spectator is willing to bring to it; I'm still curious to see more of Omirbaev's to gauge how deep it may be.

  • It's not quite "a real movie", purposely flattened in a sub-Bressonian style and crushingly explicit about its Message, viz. that Darwinian capitalism, though perhaps suited to the "modern world", is inimical to the rural traditions and reflexive Islam of Kazakh culture (cultures are shaped by climate, claims a professor; ours isn't like the Anglo-Saxons').

  • With its pared-back, taciturn, almost Bressonian directness,Student might even seem like a rather naïve take on the Dostoyevsky theme, were it not for Omirbayev using a couple of scenes of philosophy lectures and some judiciously chosen clips playing on the student’s landlady’s television to add depth to the theme of responsibility and ethics...

  • Beginning with July (1988), Omirbayev has deliberately positioned himself as a disciple of Robert Bresson, and Student is stocked with Bressonian echoes. I’m progressively less enthusiastic about each new Omirbayev feature, because he’s caught up in a pattern he invented a long time ago.

  • Main subject is a blunt condemnation of lawless, crime-ridden capitalism transforming Kazakhstan: in a glass-and-steel, our hero lives on the shabby margins, architecturally alienated from the future. There's literal lectures about capitalism and social Darwinism, but the outrage isn't misplaced.

  • You cannot look away from Darezhan Omirbaev's Student, as you can't look away from any of the Kazakh director's films, for each and every shot is quietly but powerfully charged. It always seems a minute charge until a simple shot's condensation of narrative expression and emotional nuance sneaks up on you.

  • Like Bresson, Omirbaev keeps gestures honed to an essential level, never wasting time with extraneous dialogue or narrative asides, instead placing utmost importance on even the most seemingly mundane of activities... Omirbaev gathers texts both literary and cinematic into Student’s sly presentation and constructs a worldview from these frames that is as rich as it is mysterious.

  • Like such films as Mouchette, Pickpocket and especially The Devil, Probably, Student charts the organization of space and movement in terms of micro-gesture, the control of objects as a particular form taken by the exercise of power. We see Bajtasov, with a dead expression, galumphing through frame after frame, a camera-like observer bobbing and bisecting the space around him, but never its master. Rather, negative space defines him.

  • Omirbaev’s classical filmmaking is downright bracing; he knows when an eliding cut, a track-in, or a well-turned pause will clinch a scene. That he has yet to see distribution in the United States after two decades and six features is in itself a crime.

  • “Student” begins on a movie set and ends with an ambiguous sequence that serves to reassert its “movie-ness,” as well as the filmmaker’s understated mastery of form—and, given the location, perhaps even a recognition that that mastery is also a form of prison.

  • Psychological violence is constantly present and reflected in the film's physical violence, which is typically suggested rather than seen. The result of this choice is that violence registers less as a set of sensations than as a pure fact whose consequences we are left to contemplate—and whose ultimate value is left to us to judge.

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